The response to my blog, Let’s Talk, has blown me away. I expected my regulars to share or comment (all 150 of them!). But since posting over 75,000 visitors from all over the world have viewed, shared and commented. It has been shared on Facebook a ridiculous number of times. News agencies in both Victoria and Edmonton contacted me. And Twitter did their share to keep the conversation going, and I don’t even understand Twitter!
Since writing Let’s Talk, I have received hundreds of messages. At one point I even went in and edited my original post so that my contact information was no longer directly in the post! People first and foremost, shared mental health resources, which I have begun looking into. They shared stories of their own battles with depression and anxiety. They shared stories about what it has been like to be the caregiver of someone with mental health challenges. Many people shared stories of my dad. A lot of health care professionals wrote to me. Quite a few parents wrote to me. Even my principal from when I was in elementary school wrote. I have read every one of these emails, comments and Facebook messages. I have not been able to respond to all of them, but I want everyone to know how much I appreciate your words. You are talking about mental health.
According to www.letstalk.bell.ca there were a record 122,150,772 tweets, texts, calls and shares. Which means Bell will be donating over $6 million to mental health initiatives across Canada. We are talking about mental health.
We need to keep talking about mental health.
So…here goes. I’m taking my mental health seriously. I plan to share resources and information about my journey in hopes that other people will benefit. Here’s a tip: if you are specifically interested in reading my posts about mental health (and don’t need to see every photo session of my kids!) keep your eyes open for the above picture of Cowichan Lake, which I will use each time, and the tags “mental health” and “bereavement”.
When reading through all of the responses, a number of organizations came up over and over. One such place was Pilgrims Hospice in Edmonton. This one stood out to me because I walk or drive by Pilgrims Hospice at least twice a day. It is quite literally half a block from my house. I began by just checking out their website and ended up on their page about grief services. Tonight, I went to their drop-in grief support group which runs the second Wednesday of the month. I went with the hopes of seeing whether this would be a fit for me. With two young kids I don’t have a lot of me time, so the proximity was key!
I walked over with Maverick in his carrier, not really knowing what to expect. Turns out, at this moment in my journey, it was perfect for me. Jesse McElheran met me at the door and I turned out to be the only participant. This was great for me, but not so great for all the people out there who have experienced loss and don’t know about this (FREE) resource. Jesse and I talked about the hospice and what they offer. We talked about how difficult it is to get the word out to people who need or want support (here’s where I come in!) We talked about my situation. And Jesse introduced me to Alan Wolfelt, who she has trained with. Well, she didn’t technically introduce us, but rather introduced me to his work, more specifically two books: Journey Through Grief and The Understanding Your Grief Journal. The next step in my journey? I’ll let you know.
If you are in Edmonton and have experienced the loss of someone you love, Pilgrims Hospice has their next drop-in bereavement session on March 11 at 7:00. Maybe I’ll see you there. Pilgrims Hospice also offers individual counselling as well as grief support groups for children, teens and families. If you haven’t lost someone, but would like to support Pilgrims Hospice, consider a donation. The majority of their programming is dependent on private donations. Finally, if Edmonton isn’t where you call home, here is a link to the Canadian Virtual Hospice provided by another thoughtful responder.
I plan to keep talking about mental health.